STAR The Unique Kitten ‑ Short Story

The New Project

The start-up company 'Star' was in production for some eighteen months. Its success was phenomenal. It focused on pet owners. The first television advert went out late one evening. It asked animal owners for video footage of their pets performing tricks. Their advert stated no tapes were returnable. However, every clip proudly offered would have the pet owners name attached to the clip before broadcasting, giving owners their fifteen minutes of fame.

This was a clever ploy on the part of the new company since their first advertisement, they had received sacks full of tapes daily. These tapes would help to maintain production for some time to come. It was the brain wave of Jen and Mickey; they met while at university. On leaving university, they set up an advertising company together. It fell to Jen this particular day to watch tapes staring kittens for their new project.

An hour and a half had passed, and Jen still could not find any suitable tapes. She took a mouthful of her coffee and reached for the next tape. A red symbol embossed on the cover of the tape caught her eye. A she was about to put the tape into the machines' slot. The tape started to run, and then a screeching came from inside the machine followed by an ominous silence.

"Damn it," said Jen.

She tried to eject the tape but it was firmly stuck in the machine.

"Oh please," Jen said even more frustrated.

To her astonishment, the videotape started to play. Jen could not believe what she saw. There was the cutest kitten you could imagine playing with a red ball of wool. There was nothing surprising in this; many kittens before it would have been doing much the selfsame thing. The remarkable thing was this kitten had a large pair of gossamer wings.

The kitten was weaving what appeared to be a cat's cradle with the wool. The cat stopped in mid-flight sensing an audience. It flew towards the screen hov on the spot. It looked straight into Jen's eyes just before the display blanked out. Jen was still staring through the screen when Mickey entered the room.

"Well, you are not going to get much done watching a blank screen," he said laughing.

"What, no - I know. The tapes jammed in the machine," she said pulling herself together.

"Let me have a look," he said.

On pushing the button, the tape slowly ejected.

"Typical," Jen said. Will you stay and look at this tape with me? It's rather unusual?" Jen was experiencing an uncomfortable feeling about this particular tape.

"I'm sorry I can't honey." Mickey said giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "I have a meeting scheduled, and I'm already late. See you later," he said walking out of the room.

Jen gingerly pushed the videotape back into the system, but it would not run. In disgust, she threw it into the bin marked 'For Destruction,' and went to answer the phone.

It was 7pm, and Jen was making her way home by train. It would be another forty-five minutes before she reached her destination. She picked up for her briefcase and opened it. As she reached inside the case, something scratched her. On withdrawing her hand, there was a considerable scratch-mark across the back of her hand, and it was bleeding.

Jen licked at the scratch with her tongue and peered into her briefcase. To her astonishment, the videotape with the red symbol was inside her case. She quickly slammed the briefcase shut. Jen closed her eyes. Her day turned out to be very strange, and all too upsetting.

"You're getting blood on your clothes," someone said behind her.

"Oh, thanks for the warning," Jen replied.

Turning around, she found she was alone in the train carriage. Feeling somewhat unnerved, she grabbed her mobile out of her case and phoned Mickey. He was unavailable, so she left him a message asking him to call her as soon as possible.

When Jen finally got home, she threw her coat and briefcase onto a chair. Peeling off her clothes, she walked through to the bathroom and showered. She felt refreshed by her shower. However, her hand by now was sore and swollen, so she wrapped a bandage around it. After dressing, Jen made a sandwich and curled up in a chair. She nibbled at the sandwich - but had little appetite. Her head was still reeling over the day's events.

The doorbell rang. On opening the door Jen ran straight into Mickey's arms sobbing.

"Hey, what's up? You sounded so upset on the phone I came as soon as I could."

"Oh Mickey, I'm so glad to see you. I've had such a dreadful day," Jen said between sobs.

Mickey gently coaxed her to tell him all about the day's events. It was clear. Mickey did not know what to make of it either, for which Jen could not blame him.

"Come on let's see this tape," he said going over to fetch her briefcase from the chair.

"Be careful my hand is red and swollen from a scratch I received from something in my briefcase."

Gently undoing the bandage Jen held out her hand for him to examine it. Unbelievably, her hand returned to normal. This was more than Jen could take, and she became hysterical. Mickey finally managed to calm her down. He found some sleeping tablets in the medicine cabinet, which he encouraged her to take. By the time he left for home Jen was sound asleep.

Jen stirred she could hear a cat fight going on underneath her bedroom window. She got up and looked out. It was pitch-black, and she could not see a thing. She looked at her watch it was three in the morning. Sighing, she slowly padded her way across the room to the kitchen to get a glass of water. On her way back from the kitchen, she dropped the glass of water on the living room floor in shock.

Her briefcase was lying open on the chair and coming out of the shadows Jen could make out the silhouette of a cat stealthily walking towards her. As it moved closer, Jen could see the cat was the same kitten she had watched on the tape. She froze as the kitten brushed itself against her legs purring deeply and fluttering its wings.

"Please pick me up Jen," it said.

"Go away, and leave me be," she said running into her bedroom and slamming the door shut.

"I will not hurt you. Please believe me Jen," said the cat that had materialized beside her in the room.

"How can you talk and fly? It must be the sleeping tablets, I'm hallucinating," Jen said rubbing her eyes.

The cat flew up and hovered in front of her face.

"I will never harm you Jen. You are going to need me. I'm here to help you. Please, hold me Jen I can only fly in short bursts, and I am getting very tired."

The kitten began to yawn, and Jen did likewise.

"I must be going mad, but for some reason, I believe you." Reaching out she collected the kitten and cradled it in her arms.

The kitten snuggled in to her purring loudly.

"What are you called?" Jen asked stroking its fur.

"My name is Star," it said washing its paws, and then went on to lick at her hand.

"What a coincidence, that's my companies name," Jen replied.

"I know. I must rest now," said Star. "I'm drained of energy, and you are going to need me to be strong. Goodnight Jen we will talk some more tomorrow."

Star then jumped out of her arms and onto the chair. He was soon asleep. Jen went back to bed. In no time at all, she was fast asleep.

Jen awoke the next morning feeling remarkably refreshed. She sang to herself as she prepared for work. The only blight on this lovely day was star was nowhere to be seen. She left a saucer of milk for him and went off to work. She had determined not to say anything to Mickey - he would think she was being hysterical again.

Mickey, could not believe the transformation in Jen. However, he decided it prudent not to ask too many questions about the night before events. As for Jen was grateful not to have to explain herself.

After work, Jen called into a supermarket and picked up some cans of the finest cat food. She was looking forward to seeing star again. He seemed to have a calming effect on her. As she opened the front door, she heard a noise coming from the bedroom.

"Star, is that you?" She called.

"Who, or what, is Star?" Jarrard said walking towards her. Jen was both surprised and annoyed at seeing him.

"What are you doing here, and how the hell did you get in?" she asked angrily.

"Well, that's a fine way to greet your husband. I do still have a key you know," Jarrard said pecking her on the cheek.

"That will not for long. The divorce papers are due to be signed any day now," she said rubbing at her cheek as if to remove his peck.

"It's why I'm here honey. It is essential that I get you to you change your mind about this divorce, and I'm going to convince you to do just that," he said threateningly. "You know my situation. My solicitor has explained it in his letters to you. You must change your mind, or I will be forced to take certain measures," Jarrard said grabbing hold of her blouse lapels.

"You don't frighten me any longer Jarrard. The days are gone when you could bully me," she said brushing his hands away. Nevertheless, as she walked across the room, her legs felt like jelly.

"Why after all these years do you want a divorce? Have you met someone else?" He asked angrily.

"No, it's just time for me to move on. Start a new life, and that means breaking all ties with you," said Jen with bravado.

Jen was relieved to feel star brushing against her legs. She automatically bent down and picked him up.

"Is that yours? I thought you didn't like cats," said Jarrard.

"This one is different. He is very special," Jen said stroking Star and noticing the absence of wings.

Jen felt star stiffen in her arms as Jarrard stepped towards her. She gently put the kitten down on the floor; she did not want Jarrard harming Star.

"Well, are you going to change your mind, or am I going to have to change it for you?" Jarrard said menacingly.

Jen was really cared now. She had experienced Jarrard's temper at first hand, and she did care for the look in those cold eyes of his. She moved backwards to escape him but was blocked by the window frame.

Jarrard lunged for her, and Jen sidestepped him. At that same moment, Star flew at him. A look of shock and dismay came over. Jarrard's face as he lost his balance. The pair of them went crashing out through the window showering the room in glass.

Jen looked down to see Jarrard impaled on the railings at a grotesque angle. Star looked up to her as she leant out of the window screaming the kittens name. The cat looked unharmed by the experience. It meowed back to her then ran down the path on hearing voices.

A police autopsy had concluded that Gerrard had slipped backwards out of the window, because of the way he had landed. They also surmised that due to the amount off alcohol and drugs in his system, he would have been unstable. All the top-floor apartments in Jen's block had strengthened glass. Therefore, she would not have the strength to push him out of the window. Furthermore, there were no other wounds on him - only those sustained in his fall.

Jen did not see star for some time. Then one night after work she was sitting and watching television when the screen suddenly went blank. Star appeared inside the set licking a paw.

"Star, thank you so much for what you did. I do miss you. Are you ok?" She blurted out, relieved to be able to thank him at last.

Star appeared to nod back yes, and then licked at the screen.

"Will I ever see you again?" she asked.

The cat shook his head as if to say no - then pressed a paw up against the screen. Jen went across to the screen and placed her palm on the glass opposite his paw. She blew him a kiss as he slowly disappeared from view...